VMware made a splash earlier this week by unveiling its vSphere cloud-optimized OS. Microsoft, as it has been doing with clocklike regularity lately, wasted no time in trashing vSphere as expensive and unnecessary.
In its latest attack against VMware, Microsoft depicts its rival's virtualization products as a redundant separate layer that sits between hardware and the OS. David Greschler, director of Microsoft virtualization and management, claims that vSphere is approximately three to five times the cost of Microsoft's virtualization solution.
"VSphere may be the best reason yet to move to Microsoft's virtualization solution," Greschler wrote in a Tuesday blog post.
Microsoft has recently been stepping up efforts to highlight the virtualization technology it has built into Windows, and earlier this week said it will include live migration and high availability with the upcoming update to its free Hyper-V hypervisor.
VMware's approach of adding a separate virtualization layer made sense in the early days of virtualization, but the technology has reached a level of maturity where baking it into the OS offers the lowest total cost of ownership, according to Greschler. "We think this is a better approach, as it means you have one less layer to manage, secure and pay for," he said.
Rand Morimoto, president of Convergent Computing, an Oakland, Calif.-based solution provider that has a staff of consultants with expertise in Hyper-V and VMware, says the tight integration of virtualization into Windows has enabled Microsoft to make up significant ground on VMware in the past year.
"More and more of our customers are switching over from VMware to Hyper-V because Hyper-V uses a familiar interface, works out of the box and is included in the organization's existing licensing agreement," Morimoto said.
VMware is touting VSphere's ability to help customers turn their data centers into private clouds, but Greschler disputed the need for a separate layer to make this possible.
"The cloud isn't about throwing away your old applications; it's partly about taking your existing applications and making them more flexible, extensible and distributed," he said. "In other words, you don't need an extra 'cloud operating system' to build a cloud running Windows Server. Just use Windows Server."
Another looming problem for VMware is Citrix's decision to offer its XenServer technology free of charge and embrace Hyper-V. Alex Pearson, president of IS Systems, a San Antonio -based solution provider, says this has many companies taking a cold, hard look at what they're spending on virtualization.
"I have multiple clients telling me that when the VMware renewals come up, they're going to shift to XenServer simply because it's cheaper to migrate," Pearson said.
Although Citrix will charge for its higher-end management tool, Pearson estimates that 70 percent of all his customers' installations will operate smoothly with the free XenServer.
"This isn't a dumbed-down free hypervisor, but a step toward the complete commoditization of virtualization," he said.